It’s that time of year again — kids are headed back to school. You’ve been buying school supplies and clothes but you also need to think about healthy after-school treats. Your kids will have had long days of reading, writing, etc. and hopefully they’ve had physical activity via recess and before/after school “play” time. Be prepared for them to come home FAMISHED!!! Have loads of healthy snacks for them.
Try to avoid non-nutritious goodies as in chips, sweets and sweetened beverages and stock up with healthy, fun foods from the FIVE food groups. Here are some easy suggestions:
DAIRY: go for lower-fat dairy treats, as in:
- String cheese or small chunks of cheese
- Top a small bowl of cottage cheese with applesauce or salsa.
- Mix some herbs into fat-free plain yogurt and serve with carrot and celery sticks, or small broccoli or cauliflower bunches.
- Have flavored yogurt on hand for them to gobble up.
- Make smoothies with milk, yogurt and fruit.
GRAINS: look for WHOLE grains on nutrition labels when buying cereals, crackers, bread, etc.
- Have them dish up a bowl of cereal and milk.
- Top toasted waffles with peanut butter and reduced sugar jelly/jam OR with flavored yogurt.
- Purchase mini rice cakes. Top with thin cheese and/or veggie slices.
- Popcorn is great if you don’t pile on the salt and butter—a little goes a long way!!!
FRUITS: whether fresh, canned or frozen, all are healthy.
- Apple slices contain loads of healthy nutrients and can be dipped in peanut butter or flavored yogurt.
- Berries are great to add to smoothies.
- Fruit parfaits are easy to assemble: low-fat vanilla yogurt and fruit bits topped with low-fat granola.
VEGGIES: are packed with lots of vitamins and minerals.
- Have small chunks or slices of carrots, cucs, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and cherry or grape tomatoes washed and ready to be enjoyed with herbs or seasoning mixes blended into low-fat PLAIN yogurt OR cottage cheese.
- Quesadillas assembled and ready to be heated in the microwave are a great treat. Use whole grain tortillas topped with thin slices/bits of veggies, shredded low-fat cheese, and salsa and then top with another tortilla. Heat, cut in serving sizes and watch them be devoured!!
MEATS/FISH/BEANS: nutrient-packed, especially with protein.
- Have tuna, chicken or egg salad chilled so your kids can enjoy with wheat crackers, tortillas or bread.
- Kids can toast ½ bagel and top with peanut butter.
- Thin slices of lunch meat rolled around a celery stick are great munchies.
- Spread low-fat refried beans on a toasted English muffin and top with salsa and shredded cheese. Pop in the microwave, melt the cheese and it’s ready.
Nutritious snacks can taste great. The key for healthy, after-school treats is to plan before you shop. Then let your kids know what is on hand to enjoy. Take the time to teach them how to prepare their own nutritious snacks and enjoy the finished products with them!!